Lithium battery cathode materials industry research report

Lithium battery cathode materials industry research report

Table of Contents

Lithium batteries are mainly composed of cathode materials, anode materials, separators, electrolytes and battery shells. The positive electrode material is the decisive factor for the electrochemical performance of lithium batteries, which directly determines the energy density and safety of the battery, which in turn affects the overall performance of the battery.

The cathode materials account for the largest proportion of the cost of lithium battery materials, accounting for 45%, and its cost also directly determines the overall cost of the battery. Therefore, the cathode materials play an important role in the lithium battery, and directly leads the development of the lithium battery industry.

In the cost composition of electric vehicles, the power system accounts for the largest proportion, close to 50%. The power system is mainly composed of battery, motor and electronic control, of which the battery is the core, accounting for 76% of the cost, the motor accounts for 13%, and the electronic control accounts for 11%.

In the cost composition of the battery system, the positive electrode accounts for about 45% of the cost of the battery, the negative electrode accounts for about 10% of the cost of the battery, the separator accounts for about 10% of the cost of the battery, and the electrolyte accounts for about 10% of the cost of the battery. The ratio is about 10%, and the other ingredients account for about 25%.

The composition of the positive electrode material

Lithium battery cathode materials mainly include active materials, conductive agents, solvents, binders, current collectors, additives, auxiliary materials, etc. The main raw materials of positive electrode materials include nickel sulfate, manganese sulfate, cobalt sulfate, metallic nickel, battery-grade lithium carbonate, battery-grade lithium hydroxide, and the main auxiliary materials include caustic soda, ammonia water, sulfuric acid, etc. These raw and auxiliary materials are mainly bulk chemicals. The market supply is relatively sufficient.

Cathode materials classification

Cathode material classification

Lithium batteries are divided according to the cathode material system, which can generally be divided into lithium cobalt oxide (LCO), lithium manganate (LMO), lithium iron phosphate (LFP), ternary materials nickel cobalt lithium manganate (NCM) and nickel cobalt aluminate Lithium (NCA), etc. Among them, lithium iron phosphate is mainly used in the new energy vehicle and energy storage battery market, and ternary materials are widely used in the new energy passenger car, electric bicycle and power tool battery market.

Different cathode materials have different advantages and disadvantages. Lithium cobalt oxide cathode materials have good electrochemical performance and processing performance, as well as relatively high specific capacity, but lithium cobalt oxide materials have high cost (metal cobalt is expensive) and low cycle life. , poor safety performance.

Compared with lithium cobaltate, lithium manganate has the advantages of abundant resources, low cost, no pollution, good safety performance, and good rate performance. However, its low specific capacity, poor cycle performance, especially high temperature cycle performance, make its application greatly limited.

Lithium iron phosphate is inexpensive, environmentally friendly, has high safety performance, good structural stability and cycle performance, but its energy density is low and its low temperature performance is poor. The nickel-cobalt-manganese ternary material combines the advantages of lithium cobaltate, lithium nickelate and lithium manganate. Compared with cathode materials such as lithium iron phosphate and lithium manganate, ternary materials have higher energy density and longer cruising range.

Cathode material industry chain

The positive electrode material is the most critical raw material for lithium-ion batteries. The upstream of the positive electrode material for lithium batteries is lithium, cobalt, nickel and other mineral raw materials, which are combined with conductive agents and binders to make precursors. The precursor is synthesized through a certain process to obtain a positive electrode material, which is used in different fields.

The cathode materials of lithium battery is the decisive factor for the electrochemical performance of lithium battery, and plays a leading role in the energy density and safety performance of the battery, and the cost of cathode materials is also high. The downstream lithium battery manufacturing fields are mainly divided into power lithium batteries, consumer lithium batteries and energy storage lithium batteries, which are ultimately used in new energy vehicles, mobile phones, portable computers and power storage stations.

Market size of cathode materials

Market size of cathode materials

Due to the sharp rise in the prices of upstream lithium, cobalt, nickel and other metals, the prices of cathode materials have also risen sharply. In 2021, the output value of cathode materials in China will reach RMB 141.91 billion, a year-on-year increase of 123.1%, exceeding the increase in output value in 2017.

According to the data, in 2021, China’s lithium-ion battery cathode materials shipments will be 1.094 million tons, a significant increase of 98.5% year-on-year. Among them, the shipment of lithium iron phosphate cathode materials was 455,000 tons, accounting for 41.6%, and the shipment of ternary cathode materials is 422,000 tons, accounting for 38.6%. The shipment of lithium iron phosphate surpassed that of ternary cathode materials. Experts predict that by 2025, China’s cathode materials shipments will reach 4.71 million tons, and the market has great room for growth.

Competitive landscape of cathode materials

The cathode has the most intense competition among the four major materials, and the industry concentration is relatively scattered. In 2020, the cathode materials CR6 will reach 38%, and the industry concentration is only half of that of separators, electrolytes and anodes.

From the perspective of the overall competition pattern of the industry, the rapid growth in shipments of lithium iron phosphate cathode materials has made Hunan Yuneng and Defang Nano the first and second place in the entire cathode material industry in 2021, respectively. In the future, as battery companies, large chemical companies, and upstream mining companies enter the field of cathode materials, the competition in the entire industry may become more intense, and the overall industry pattern may still undergo major changes.

The competitive landscape of the ternary cathode materials industry is scattered but stable. At present, the world’s ternary material production capacity is mainly located in China, South Korea and Japan. Among them, in 2021, China’s ternary material shipments will account for 58.77% of the world’s ternary material shipments, accounting for more than half of the total.

The products are mainly NCM, Japan’s ternary materials are mainly NCA, and South Korea has both NCM and NCA. In 2021, the top three market shares of ternary cathode materials in China are Rongbai Technology, Dangsheng Technology, and Tianjin Bamo.

2 development directions of cathode materials

Two development directions of cathode materials

With the continuous improvement of downstream performance requirements for lithium batteries, cathode materials will usher in a new round of technological iterations and upgrades. The two technical paths represented by lithium iron manganese phosphate and high nickel ternary are the most clear. The lithium iron manganese phosphate battery is expected to be next year. Starting commercial applications, the proportion of high-nickel ternary in ternary batteries will continue to increase.

Lithium iron manganese phosphate is the upgrade direction

The energy density of lithium iron phosphate batteries is very high. Lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) is an upgraded version of lithium iron phosphate. Lithium manganese iron phosphate (LiMnxFe1-xPO4) is a new type of phosphate formed by doping a certain proportion of manganese (Mn) on the basis of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4). Lithium-ion battery cathode materials.

Through the doping of manganese element, on the one hand, the advantages of iron and manganese can be effectively combined, and on the other hand, the doping of manganese and iron will not significantly affect the original structure. High energy density is the core advantage of lithium iron manganese phosphate compared to lithium iron phosphate.

The theoretical gram capacity (170mAh/g) of lithium iron phosphate and lithium iron manganese phosphate is the same, but the discharge platform is different. The open-circuit voltage discharge platform of manganese ions in lithium manganese iron phosphate is 4.1V, and the overall discharge platform of lithium manganese iron phosphate is 3.8V-4.1V.

The theoretical discharge platform of lithium iron phosphate is 3.4V, and the actual level is 3.2-3.3V. Compared with lithium iron phosphate, lithium iron manganese phosphate has a higher voltage platform, and its energy density can be about 15% higher than that of lithium iron phosphate, and it retains the safety and low-cost characteristics of lithium iron phosphate cells.

The trend of high nickelization of ternary cathode

The trend of high nickelization of ternary cathode

Those with a Ni element ratio of 60% and above are called high-nickel ternary materials. High-nickel ternary will continue to grow into the mainstream technology for long-range vehicles. With the development of related technologies and the integration of vehicle platform functions, new energy vehicles will continue to develop towards higher energy density and longer cruising range in the future.

The development trend of lithium-ion batteries is becoming more and more obvious. According to the data, in 2021, China’s ternary cathode materials are still dominated by high-voltage Ni5 series products, accounting for 46%, followed by Ni8 series high nickel products, accounting for 36%, and Ni6 series products accounting for 16%.

From the technical point of view, high nickel ternary has higher technical barriers than other cathode materials. It not only requires higher research and development technology, but also requires more efficient and stable engineering technology capabilities and more refined production management level.

From the perspective of energy density, after the introduction of ultra-high nickel cathode materials, the energy density of the battery cell has reached 300-400Wh/kg, which widens the gap with the lithium iron phosphate battery cell, which can better meet the requirements of new energy vehicles. Intelligent development requirements.

From the cost side, the high-nickel ternary cathode materials use less cobalt metal, which reduces the cost of raw materials and brings about a decrease in the unit cost of high-nickel ternary lithium batteries, which is conducive to the popularization of new energy vehicles. On the high-nickel battery track, leading players such as CATL, Panasonic, LG Energy, Samsung SDI, SKI, etc. have mass-produced and supplied NCM and NCA batteries with a nickel content of over 80%, and aimed at over 90% nickel content of ultra-high nickel batteries.

Other cathode material technology paths

Other cathode material technology paths

Li-rich manganese-based cathode materials: It has the characteristics of high energy density, low cost and environmental friendliness. It is a possible cathode material development direction in the future. Its specific capacity is as high as 300mAh/g, which is much higher than the current commercial application of lithium iron phosphate. The specific discharge capacity of cathode materials such as ternary materials and ternary materials is the technical key for the energy density of power lithium batteries to exceed 400Wh/kg.

At the same time, the lithium-rich manganese-based materials are mainly based on the cheaper manganese element and have less precious metal content. Compared with the commonly used lithium cobalt oxide and nickel-cobalt-manganese ternary cathode materials, the cost is not only lower, but also the safety is better.

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